Blender Power: Horsepower, Peak Horsepower, Watts, and Speeds
What Do They Each Mean and What Do I Really Need?
Trying to figure out what you need just by looking at the numbers on the box is enough to make your head spin. Or whip. Or puree. Or…pulse? But never fear, Blenders Guide is here to help. Let’s take a look at what it all means and what more or less of each can mean for your blending experience.
Most blender companies use watts to indicate a blender’s power. But occasionally, and more often in the higher-end blender manufacturers like Vitamix and BlendTec, you’ll see it listed in horsepower. Bear in mind, the concept of horsepower has been used to market to consumers for over 300 years and by design evokes imagery of a powerful, unrelenting, driving force. For blender enthusiasts looking to pulverize ingredients, that can get exciting. But there’s been a lot of debate and growing consumer studies on the discrepancy of advertised vs. actual horsepower output of blenders. And in truth, consumers should know that horsepower can be measured in watts. So listing horsepower, as opposed to watts, comes off as more of a gimmicky way to separate the “blender men from the blender boys,” if you will. Because 1 horsepower, in fact, equals 746 watts.
Peak horsepower translates to the most power a blender can put out at one time—at its peak. For example, some Vitamix models list a rating of 2 Horsepower as it’s peak output power. That doesn’t mean it puts it out 2 horsepower consistently, the entire time, for all jobs—it just means, that’s the most power it’s capable of at the peak of the job.
The watts listed on the blender, are simply telling a buyer how much power it has. Blenders start at about 200 watts and go up to around 1600 watts. Given the basic understanding of watts and power, a blender buyer can easily infer that the higher the watts, the more power it has. And a buyer will also notice that the more watts a blender has, the higher the price. Basic countertop smoothie-type blenders like Magic Bullet are around 250 watts and the basic countertop pitcher blenders come in at around 300 – 600 watts. The higher wattage blenders (of 1000/1100 watts and over) are considered more serious, heavy duty, professional blenders.
The speeds available on a blender aren’t really a way of telling you how powerful a blender is, but rather just a way of dictating how fast you can “step on the gas” for each blending job. Personal smoothie (jar type) blenders like Magic Bullet and NutriBullet typically have one speed. And most lower wattage, moderately priced blenders usually have 2 speeds: “High” and “Low.” But other blenders offer a range of variable speeds with a dial to click through the speeds one at a time allowing you to turn it up or down a notch as needed. And still others offer different speeds by pre-programming them as functions like “whip”, “chop”, “puree” or “liquify.” Labeling them this way often takes the guesswork out of selecting a speed and is attractive to consumers who appreciate these types of shortcuts.
|Speed||Function||Example Ingredients||To Make|
|Low||Puree, Chop, Mix, Pulse, Whip, Cream, Beat||Yogurt, Bananas, Soft Fruits, Soft Vegetables, Milk, Eggs, Nuts, Tomatoes||Fine Ice, Ice Cream, Milkshakes, Batters, Chopped Vegetables, Purees, Salsa, Chopped Nuts|
|Medium||Dice, Blend, Puree, Mash||Hard Fruits, Hard Vegetables, Frozen Fruits, Leafy Greens, Apples, Carrots, Kale, Onions, Potatoes, Chick Peas, Legumes||Smoothies, Dips, Fruit and Vegetable Juice, Nuts, Sauces, Spreads|
|High||Liquify, Ice Crush, Grate, Blend, Grind, Shred||Ice, Nuts, Coffee Beans, Cheese, Cooked Meats, Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Oats, Chick Peas, Legumes, Frozen Fruits||Course Ice, Nut Butter, Hummus, Shredded Cheese, Soups, Crushed Spices, Margaritas, Smoothies, Soup, Ground Coffee, Flour|
|Pulse||Pulse uses the blender’s highest setting. It will stay on only as long as you hold down the button. Using pulse gives you a lot of control over your blending and is great for processing your ingredients in short bursts. Pulse is also what you would use for blenders that are capable of kneading dough.|
Pro Tip: Low to High Speed
If you’re going to use a high setting, it’s perfectly fine to start low and progress to high—but don’t do the opposite.
So How Do I Decide?
Is more power better? Do I need more? The answer, of course, depends on how you plan to use the blender and what your blender budget looks like. If your main intention is to make smoothies with easy to blend ingredients like berries and bananas, then you won’t need much power and you’ll be happy with most any blender out there. And your wallet will be pretty happy as well. But if you’re going to be adding ingredients like seeds, harder fruits like apples, or leafy greens like kale to your smoothies, then you’ll want to look at something around 700 – 900 watts. And for people who use a blender almost every day for different types of blending, the benefits of having a high powered unit in your kitchen are plentiful. Having a high-powered blender (of at least 1000 watts) opens up the possibilities of what you can do and makes things like grinding grains, making nut butter, shredding cheeses, and making hummus all part of your at-home kitchen capabilities. The last point to consider when shopping for your blender is soup making. Some high-end blenders like Vitamix can blend your ingredients with such force that the rate of friction of the blades actually heats up raw ingredients and leaves you with ready to eat soup—an option just not available in lower-powered blenders.
The table below can be useful to help you decide how much power you need in a blender.
|300-400 watts||Blends and purees soft ingredients well. Chops veggies. Example: Ninja 400 Watt Blender/Food Processor|
|500-700 watts||Handles frozen ingredients and ice. Example NutriBullet 600W|
|900-1000 watts||Handles harder ingredients like leafy greens, carrots, and apples. Turns ice to snow. Purees all types of ingredients. Example NutriBullet 900W|
|More than 1100 watts||Pulverizes tough ingredients. Grinds grains into flour and nuts into nut butter. Shreds cheese. Kneads dough. Check out our Ninja or Vitamix buyers guides for high powered blender reviews.|